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PROGRAM NOTES for
Friday October 14, 2016
The first concert in this season's "A Musical Feast" series will take place in the group's home, the acoustically superior and intimately comfortable Tower Auditorium of the
Burchfield Penny Art Center on the Elmwood side of the Buffalo State College Campus on Friday October 14 at 8pm.
The saxophone gets to throw the first punch in this concert, when
Fredonia School of Music faculty members Diane Hunger and Wildy Zumwalt perform Marc Mellits work Black, as high-energy composition, originally written for two bass clarinets,
here performed on alto saxophones. UB professor of cello Jonathan Golove and pianist/composer Amy Williams will join in a performance of Robert Schumann's irresistibly lovely
Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), with its heat meltingly lovely "Träumerei" (Dreaming) movement, a work originally composed for solo piano but equally effective in this very
popular transcription by the 19th
century virtuoso cellist, and pedagogue, Friedrich Grützmacher, as updated by the contemporary Italian duo, pianist Emanuele Torquati and cellist Francesco Dillon.
Amy Williams is also a composer of music that is "simultaneously demanding, rewarding and fascinating" (Buffalo News), "fresh, daring and incisive" (Fanfare). Her
compositions have been presented at renowned contemporary music venues all over the world including at "A Musical Feast". With a repertoire ranging from the baroque onwards,
cellist/composer Jonathan Golove, with credits ranging from chamber music, to opera (Red Harvest) will play with pianist Amy Williams his composition
Kreisler's Coat: for cello and piano. Golove writes: "Schumann based his Kreisleriana, a collection of eight short 'fantasies' for solo piano, on the character Johannes Kreisler,
who appears in a number of E. T. A. Hoffmann's fictional writings," Following will be a performance of a now almost forgotten early 20th Century master Egon Wellesz. The
Sonata for solo cello, op. 31
by the Austrian-born, British composer Egon Wellesz has been very rarely programmed in post World War II America. "Wellesz was a Viennese student of Arnold Schönberg", says cellist Jonathan Golove.
Wildy Zumwalt will perform Debussy's groundbreaking Syrinx, originally written for solo flute. Debussy composed Syrinx, his short, but astonishingly evocative and
highly influential piece for solo flute in 1913, the year before the outbreak of World War I; the work has played a pivotal role in the development of solo flute music in the early
The final work on the program is by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45. It will be performed by Fredonia
School of Music faculty violin professor David Colwell and Ithaca College School of Music piano faculty Russian pianist Dmitri Novgorodsky. In August 2014, Novgorodsky
performed collaborative recitals at the Deià International Music Festival and at the Palau March Summer Concert series in Palma de Mallorca with violinist David Colwell. By the age of
16, he had won the First Prize at the Kazakhstan National Piano Competition, and later the Gold Medal at the National Festival of the Arts.
Marc Mellits (b. 1966)
The very prolific contemporary American composer Marc Mellits originally composed Black
in 2008, for two amplified bass clarinets. Unsurprisingly, the piece gained immediate popularity, and the composer subsequently made arrangements of it for two violins, two cellos, two electric basses, two bassoons, two soprano saxophones, two baritone saxophones, and lastly, two alto saxophones, the instruments featured in this evening's performance. Mellits has often been categorized as a miniaturist, and indeed, he often composes works that feature short, highly contrasting movements, but, his music is always eclectic and colorful, but also all encompassing, with a strong sense of forward motion. In
Black, the two saxophonists engage in a high energy, but still very intimate dialogue, that demands that the listener sit up and pay close attention, since there is no other
option nor, indeed, is one needed, as the short, but intense piece quickly reaches its irresistible conclusion.
Kinderszenen, Op.15 (Scenes from Childhood)
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Schumann's beloved collection of 13 short pieces for piano, Kinderszenen, Op.15
has been popular ever since since its initial publication in 1839. Franz Liszt, perhaps the greatest pianist of the 19th
Century had this to say about the work: "As far as the Scenes from Childhood are concerned, I owe them one of the liveliest pleasures of my life." At home, in the evening Liszt often enjoyed playing some of the pieces, not only for his young daughter Blandine-Rachel but also for his own pleasure. The composer told his wife Clara, who was herself one of the most accomplished pianists in Germany, that he was inspired to compose these brief, often deceptively simple pieces by her comment that he "sometimes seemed like a child" and he later described them as "more cheerful, gentler, more melodic" than most of his earlier works. Among the always charming pieces, pride of place must go to No. 7,
Träumerei, "Dreaming", which is one of Schumann's best known pieces.
The best known transcription of Kinderszenen
for piano and cello is that of Friedrich Grützmacher. Born in 1832 in Dessau, Germany Friedrich Grützmacher became principal cellist of the Court Orchestra of Saxony, and head of the Dresden Musical Society, as well as a professor at the Dresden Conservatory. One of the most prominent cellists in the second half of the 19
century, he concertized extensively in Europe and in Russia. This evening's performance will feature an updated version of Grützmacher's transcription by the contemporary Italian duo, pianist Emanuele Torquati and cellist Francesco Dillon.
Kreisler's Coat: for cello and piano
Jonathan Golove (b. 1966)
About his work, the composer Jonathan Golove writes: "Schumann based his Kreisleriana, a collection
of eight short 'fantasies' for solo piano, on the character Johannes Kreisler, who appears in a number of E. T. A. Hoffmann's fictional writings. Hoffmann's Kreisleriana contains the
following suggestively synesthetic comment:
'It is not so much in the dream state as in the preceding delirious stage, particularly when one has been immersed in music, that a
relationship is established between colors, sounds, and perfumes.'
In the same work, Hoffmann described Kreisler as a "little man in a coat the color of C sharp minor with an E
major colored collar." Curiously, 'Sehr rasch,' the seventh of Schumann's fantasy pieces, contains precisely this key relationship (here, C minor and E flat major). I took Schumann's
work as the starting point for my own, at the same time making a further association with a musico-historical figure bearing the Kreisler name, namely Fritz Kreisler, whose violin
tone has always evoked for me images of golden colors and sensations of warmth."
Sonata for solo cello, Opus 31
Egon Wellesz (1885-1974)
Sonata for solo cello, op. 31
by the Austrian-born, British composer Egon Wellesz has been very rarely programmed in post World War II America. "Wellesz was a Viennese student of Arnold Schönberg", says cellist Jonathan Golove. "It is a continuous work of about 12 minutes with a main theme, marked 'Largo,' that recurs throughout, and various larger sections that are the equivalent of the discrete movements we expect in a sonata form work. The harmonic idiom is somewhere along the continuum toward atonality, but in fact it's never hard to discern the tonal centers, and the writing is highly melodic, and beautiful".
"Wellesz was also a student of Guido Adler, a Viennese pioneer in the field of musicology, and student of Bruckner. Wellesz's specialty was Byzantine music and he received an
honorary doctorate from Oxford, where he taught, after emigrating to escape the Nazis. He certainly had an interest in old music, and Bach's cello suites were just that in 1920, when
they were just being rescued from obscurity by the dedicated efforts of Pablo Casals. Wellesz's sonata is one of the early wave of works for cello solo, a genre almost completely
neglected after Bach. Its form is unlike Bach's series of individual movements, but like a Bach suite, it has a number of dance-like sections in different meters, including a gentle
5/4 'waltz' (I think of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony) and a march-like scherzo".
Claude Debussy (1862- 1918)
Debussy composed Syrinx
, his short, but astonishingly evocative and highly influential piece for solo flute in 1913, the year before the outbreak of World War I, the most catastrophic event in European
history. It has been argued by musicologists that since the score of Syrinx
gives the performer generous room for interpretation and emotion, the work has played a pivotal role in the development of solo flute music in the early twentieth century. Syrinx
is often performed off-stage, since it is thought that it was composed to be played during the interval of the uncompleted play Psyché
by Gabriel Mourey. In the play, the god Pan fall in love with the nymph Syrinx, who spurns his love and escapes by turning herself into a water reed, hiding in the marshes. Pan cuts the marsh reeds to make his pipes, so killing his love. The limpid notes of
Syrinx were quickly discovered by saxophonists. This evening's performance will feature a version for two alto saxophones.
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45 Edvard Grieg (1843 –1907)
Just as performances of his Piano Concerto are a regular feature of symphonic orchestra
performances worldwide, Edvard Grieg's many miniature pieces for piano often appear on recital programs. Nowadays, however, it is only rarely that any of his three sonatas for violin
and piano show up on recital programs. Yet, Grieg remained fond of his sonatas for violin and piano. They represent," he said in 1900, "periods in my development – the first naïve,
rich in ideas; the second national; and the third with a wider horizon". Grieg composed his Third Violin Sonata in 1887, just as he was achieving his greatest renown. The first
movement begins with a stormy C-minor main theme in the violin set against massive keyboard chords, before a transition leads to a tranquil second subject, which is followed by an
even more tender melody. The lyrical main theme of the second movement, introduced by a serene piano solo is interrupted by a vigorous, syncopated dance section, which eventually
carries over into the final third movement, which has been described as being"made of two parts rustic muscularity and one part sweet songfulness, a mix in which Grieg was